This seminar, drawn from a chapter in a forthcoming book, examines concepts of rights that arise as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is translated into the local vernacular of Pintupi-Luritja. The semantic properties of English and possible equivalent Anangu concepts are juxtaposed in the translation context and the limitations and possibilities of the universal human rights discourse are reimagined. This then sets up the core challenges and possibilities of the local uptake of this discourse. Interrogating the assumptions embedded in the Declaration is also to interrogate the foundations of the secular modern person. Can this rights-bearer accommodate the ideals of the relational spiritual Anangu person? The anthropological literature on this relational or socio-centric person is discussed. Re-visiting this early ethnographic subject is essential if we are to re-consider this distinction in terms of a continuum, rather than a dichotomy. And thus also to encourage a local dialogue with human rights.   


Dr Sarah Holcolmbe, The University of Queensland.

Sarah is currently based at the centre for Social responsibility in mining (CSRM), where she has been since mid-last year working in the Extractives and Communities Program with a focus on the social dimensions of mine closure and community / local level agreements; taking her back to her early research at CAEPR at the ANU. While Sarah was based at the ANU (2002 – 2016) as a research intensive academic, she has undertaken research on and published widely on a diverse range of issues in the Indigenous Australian context, including; human rights and intersectional challenges to implementation, Extractive industries and sustainable development, Social exclusion, marginality and post-coloniality, gender violence, Aboriginal community governance and service delivery in remote settlements and the ethical governance of Intellectual Property and collaborative knowledges. Sarah's anthropological method unsettles the ground between anthropologist as advocate and change agent, and anthropologist as practicing a discursive science.  

About Anthropology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Anthropology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of anthropological research and ideas among UQ scholars and invited researchers. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment.


Level 4, Michie Building (09), The University of Queensland, St Lucia campus